Ugly Ducklings Inc’s fundraiser begins!

official fundraiser ugly ducklings inc

Here’s the LINK to donate, and participate for a chance to win one of the 7 prize packs with Jennifer Morrison’s autograph… Continue reading


What does Mental Fitness mean?

mental health ED

Many of you know that Ugly Ducklings Inc works closely with a nonprofit organization called Mental Fitness Inc. This is work that we are very proud of and very passionate about. But… what is “mental fitness”?

We’ve asked Robyn Hussa Farrell to guest-interview with us this week to discuss Mental Fitness Inc, and building resiliency in children, youth and adults, among other things.

Welcome, Robyn. Thank you so much for being here with us!

Thank you Erin and Marie and all!

We’ve interviewed Robyn before, but for any new readers, could you tell us who you are and what you do for Mental Fitness Inc?

I’m the Founder and CEO of Mental Fitness. I created the organization almost 9 years ago when I produced a rock musical in New York City that led to many of my friends and loved ones entering treatment for eating disorders. Mental Fitness brings evidence-based arts and media programs into schools to build resiliency in kids of all ages.

How do you define ‘mental fitness’? What is so important about it when it comes to Mental Health?

We are so obsessed with physical fitness, that we wanted to create a way to look at health that includes mental wellness, too. Interestingly we are one of the only wealthy nations in the world who DOESN’T have measures that include social, emotional and psychological well being for our kids. It is time to change that!

The website talks a lot about the “Seven Pillars of Mental Fitness”… can you tell us more about what they are?

pillarsWe have been collaborating with researchers for the last decade and found several protective factors that increase resiliency and help to build mental fitness. These include mindfulness, stress-management, nourishing the body and mind, media literacy, community connections, body image and self-esteem. We’ve written about them on the new b:resilient website here.

We brought together all of the prevention-focused research in one place and created a mental fitness map which helps kids and adults improve seven key areas of fitness. We know that if a person focuses on each of these areas, they will improve overall health measures! The seven categories include:

  • self-esteem and internal validation
  • body image
  • media literacy and critical thinking
  • stress management
  • connecting with community through volunteering and role models
  • nourishing body and mind by understanding facts about Intuitive Eating and other evidence based prevention models
  • mindfulness

The way we teach about mental fitness is through evidence-based programs. So, for example, for the Body Image category, we help schools connect with the evidence-based programs that exist in that area including Dr. Becker and Stice’s “Body Project” or Kathy Kater’s “Healthy Bodies” programs.

Where can we find more information about Mental Fitness Inc and each protective category?

There is a handout here with lots of information. 

What is next for Mental Fitness Inc?

Online learning tools at b:resilient so that more educators and professionals have access to this amazing prevention research!

Thank you so much for being here with us today! We’ll post your bio below, but what is the best way for our readers to support MFI and find you?

Our website has more information about our mission and programs. You can ‘like’ us on facebook and follow us on twitter. I am also on twitter!

Robyn Hussa Farrell, Mental Fitness IncRobyn Hussa Farrell is the Founder and CEO of Mental Fitness, Inc., the non-profit we support here at UglyDucklings Inc. Marie and I have been in touch with her for almost two years now, and she is a constant inspiration to us. Robyn works incredibly hard to ensure that children grow up with a healthy mental fitness; something that is very important and inspiring work. We are so happy and proud to be a part of such an amazing organization that really is changing the lives of children in America. You can check out our other pieces about Mental Fitness Inc and our interview with Robyn to learn more… additionally, be sure to check back in the new year as we will be having a HUGE charity raffle to raise support for Mental Fitness Inc.

One Year of Ugly Ducklings Inc!

One year strong banner

Hello Ugly Ducklings!

We have been around for exactly a year! We launched March 14, 2013 and we are so happy with everything that has happened this year with Ugly Duckings Inc!

We wanted to take this opportunity to share our first “mini-podcast” with you all, featuring some announcements and an explanation of what this “Writer’s Team” is all about. Please listen below:

There you have it! Are you interested in becoming part of our growing team of writers? E-mail us to get some more info!

And you heard it! We are launching a new poster – UGLY! Check it out:

WM Poster

For a limited time, you can get a poster and t-shirt in a bundle for $22.50 + shipping! Use this order form for the t-shirt and just write in at the bottom that you’d like this poster (and remember, if you’ve already purchased a shirt from us, you should have an email about another special promo):

UDI ProDUCKS Order Form

Just email us the form and we will email you back when we are putting in the order! Thank you so much for a GREAT year, Ugly Ducklings! We look forward to many more!

swan out

“Bandwidth” in podcast’s context was totally stolen from a super-incredible person I know. Thank you!

Jennifer Pastiloff – “Starving to Loving”


When we decided we were going to be blogging a special series in honour of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I knew that we would have to include something from Jennifer Pastiloff.

I started following Jen on social media about a year and a half ago. I don’t even remember how I connected with her (I’m one of those people who actually follows the people recommended by others in #FollowFridays, so it was likely that). But I am very glad I did because she is really a daily inspiration in the lives of so many people, she gives people a voice on her website and she has significantly impacted my life (which is a blog for another day).

Jen pastiloff simple reminders

This blog, “From Starving Myself to Loving Myself” was originally published on Positively Positive in December 2012. I remember reading it then and it was so nice to read it again this week. Jennifer shares an enlightening poem she wrote when she was suffering from severe anorexia and explains what was going on at that time in her life:

“I couldn’t be with people. Someone would be talking to me, and all I would hear was: What did I eat today? Why did I eat that? Why am I so fat? Maybe if I exercise for four hours, I will be ok. I am a monster. I will not eat at all the rest of the week to make up for what I ate today.”

Jen continues her blog talking about the healing impact that Yoga had on her life and on her eating disorder.

“All of a sudden, I felt accountable. I realized I was talking about acceptance and love, and, if I had any integrity, I would have to literally become acceptance and love. So, I did. I became acceptance. And love.”

Check out the full blog here! I am so happy to know someone who can share so authentically in a way that both helps and challenges people in whatever circumstances they’re in. Whether you’ve ever suffered from an eating disorder or not, check out Jennifer’s website. She has something for everyone, all the time!

“I was letting go of who I thought I was in order to become who I am today. And I get better every day.”

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer and retreat leader based in Los Angeles. She travels around the world leading her signature Manifestation Yoga® workshops and retreats (a combination of yoga and writing.) She is also the creator of Karaoke Yoga. She is currently working on her first book: a memoir. Jen encourages people to live their best lives by being authentic and honest, and most of all, by having a sense of humor. You can join her tribe:
The Manifest-Station
She also has a great vlog series on Youtube (I highly recommend watching all the previous ones at some point too!)
*Thank you, Simple Reminders for the photo.

We loved getting all your feedback on twitter from yesterday’s blog about the NEDA Quiz! There are still a few more days left for you to send your messages to us to include in a special something to Mental Fitness Inc! Until tomorrow…

swan out

Caroline Rothstein – “I am not fat”


“This is a poem about how I am not fat.”

Today, in honour of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we wanted to share some powerful spoken word with you. Caroline Rothstein posted this video called “Fat”. This is a beautifully spoken and truly powerful piece that discusses the raw emotion and of someone in the intense throes of an eating disorder.

“I used to daydream about eating dinner without wanting to kill myself.”

Eating disorders aren’t pretty.

“I used to daydream about freedom.”

Eating disorders aren’t pretty.

Check out the full video:

Caroline is nine years recovered from a decade long eating disorder. She is a New York City-based writer, performer, and advocate. She tours her spoken word poetry nationally and has a “Body Empowerment” youtube series.  Check out her website and find her on social media today!  FacebookTwitterYoutube & Instagram!

Thanks for reading and checking out Caroline’s video, Ugly Ducklings! Remember to send us your messages for Mental Fitness Inc this week (you can email them to us:!

swan out

Erin – The Beaky One

Robyn Cruze – “I had no idea”


As many of you know from social media or our previous blog, this week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week! We work closely with Mental Fitness Inc, an amazing non-profit organization (check out our previous blog about them here and follow this rabbit hole if you’d like to donate as an Ugly Duckling to Mental Fitness Inc). To help Mental Fitness Inc and all the other non-profits spreading the word about eating disorders this week, we wanted to do a special blog series. We’re going to be posting excerpts from awesome and educational blogs with a focus on eating disorders and recovery every day for the rest of the week.

I read a blog today that I think it does a great job of discussing different aspects of eating disorders that are not as well known to those who don’t have an in-depth understanding or experience of this illness. “I had no idea” by Robyn Cruze explains:ED Awareness Pink

“In a world where being obsessed with body weight is wildly accepted and even promoted by the media and societal norms, it is difficult to spot an eating disorder. The misconception that only people who look overly thin and “sickly” or “obese” have an eating disorder can make it almost impossible to spot, unless you are the actual sufferer.”

Robyn also discusses the stigma; secrecy; and mental, emotional and physical ramifications of having an eating disorder.

Check out Robyn’s full blog here – the whole thing is a good read and you will probably learn something new.

“Robyn is fully committed to inspiring teens and emerging adults recovering from eating disorders, body image dissatisfaction and alcoholism to overcome life obstacles and follow their dreams” – check out Robyn’s website here. You can also find Robyn on Facebook and Twitter and her recently published book Make Peace With Your Plate is available through her website.

Thanks for reading and checking out Robyn’s blog, Ugly Ducklings! Remember to send us your messages for Mental Fitness Inc this week (you can email them to us:!

swan outErin – The Beaky One

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

EDRA week

Hello Ugly Ducklings!

This week is “Eating Disorder Awareness Week” and as most of you know, this is an issue that is very close to our hearts. Our ED Awarenessfavourite charity, Mental Fitness Inc, focuses on providing information about eating disorders, healthy coping mechanisms, body image and stress management to schools. The Ugly Ducklings support this charity with a portion of our monetary proceeds; this year we did #OperationNORMAL which raised additional funds for Mental Fitness Inc; and one of our own Ugly Ducklings Allie gave her birthday to helping out Mental Fitness Inc!

We don’t want to list a bunch of stats about eating disorders in this blog to demonstrate how important it is for us to bring attention to the issue. Instead, we want to direct you to the resource page at Mental Fitness Inc so you can educate yourself, especially if you think you or someone you love may be struggling with an eating disorder.

This week, we want to send loving, positive and inspiring thoughts to Mental Fitness Inc and the CEO and Founder, Robyn Hussa who we know is working incredibly hard, this week and every other week, to raise education and awareness about eating disorders. We are grateful for Robyn and how supportive she has been of Ugly Ducklings Inc and we cannot wait to see what happens next!

Do you want to make a donation as an Ugly Duckling to help out Mental Fitness Inc? Check out this page to find out how to do that!

Hmm, wouldn’t it be awesome if Mental Fitness Inc got bombarded with donations this week? Let’s do it, Ugly Ducklings! This week only, if you donate through our link to MFI and email us the confirmation, we’ll send you a little something to say thanks! To make it a little extra special, feel free to include a personal message for Mental Fitness Inc and Robyn and we’ll compile them all and send them off to her once this crazy week is over!  (Also remember, a portion of all our PRODUCK profits go towards supporting MFI as well!)


swan out

It’s simple to spread the word, very simple

donate a click and spread the word
Click! Click! We do it all the time. Have you even stopped for a second to consider how many clicks we do per day? Crazy, right?

What if one of those clicks you do with your mouse can make a huge difference?

Have you ever paused for a moment and consider that?

Because today you have the chance to do it.

Ever since this movement started we decided to commit ourselves to a very worthy organization called NORMAL in Schools (now Mental Fitness Inc.). And we want to support them as much as we can. After our humble fundraise of $600 to their organization, and the immense support we got from so many of you, we now want to urge you to help us with… yes, that’s right, with a CLICK.

That’s it, you say? well…

Skype with Kristen Bell, Private casting sessions, Tickets and a Backstage Tour of Conan. Yes! they’re all part of the Fall Auction.

just a click can make magic happenWe understand that they might be too expensive for you. But what about a Click?…that’s free, and it can be magical!

It’s as simple as that. A retweet, a post on  your Facebook, a photo on Pinterest!

Take this photo to any of the social networks you use and paste it with the Fall Auction link!

Or better yet: “Mental Fitness Inc.’s awesome Fall auction. Help us share with #YourMagicTouch |”

Love and thanks!

– Marie,

The Tail Shaker.
The Ugly Ducklings Inc's swan